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Subject: The future of war games? rss

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Fred Finkenbinder
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Hello everyone:

I posted in the BGG general thread about this but was advised to re-post in this forum.

I am a relative newcomer to this fantastic site! I have recently re-embraced the wargaming hobby (in particular, 1983's "The Civil War" by Victory Games) and am, of course, totally hooked at the moment.

I wanted to spend a quick moment picking the brains of all you dedicated grognards out there. From my perspective, it appears that the wargaming hobby of old has dwindled to a fine cult following these days (and it appears to have been that way since the late 90s or so). I see games are still produced but go out of print relatively quickly.

What I want a concensus on is, do we think that this hobby is dying? Or, should I look forward to new games to be produced for many years to come? I remember the golden days of the 80s and 90s, where brick and mortar stores would fill their shelves with such games. Now, those stores are sparce and hard to find.

I think it is sad that so many of generations after me (I am in my mid-30s) will never know the joy of playing a real board game due to the influx of increased electronic technology (phones and other app-based devices in particular).

I look forward to hearing opinions. I am hopeful that the hobby will endure for a while yet so that I can show my daughter the beauty of it in the years to come.
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Joel K
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There was an extensive discussion about this about a year and a half ago: The future of Wargaming
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Jim F
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If we are a dying breed, then we are going out in some style. I'd say the quality of games produced now make this something of a Golden Age for wargames.



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Warren Bruhn
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JoelCFC25 wrote:
There was an extensive discussion about this about a year and a half ago: The future of Wargaming


Nice thread. I remember when there was some expectation that computer gaming would wipe out cardboard wargaming. Didn't happen. Many people today seem to want a break from staring at a computer screen all day at work.

I think that popularity of card games, Eurogames, RPG's and miniatures all demonstrate that the social activity of getting together to play still has value. I think that indicates that there is a future for cardboard wargames, especially those that can be played by groups.

And, if Scottish author Iain M. Banks is to be believed, games will still be important in the distant future:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Player_of_Games
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Osprey
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I believe that wargames will be around for a long time. Peter makes a good point for one reason. There are others. Not long ago it was believed that the age of the computer and gaming consoles would kill boardgames. They did not. In fact, many savvy boardgamers with computer skills designed web based interfaces so that boardgamers could play each other using those very same computers that were to be the death of the hobby. Programs like VASSAL, Cyberboard, among others, opened up doors so that you could now play your favorite war games with people anywhere in the world and right there in front of you was an exact duplicate of your board and pieces on your computer. Pretty amazing.

I think another fortunate thing in the computer/console gaming genre that was good for wargames was the direction they took in making almost everything these days into real time games or first person shooters. It wasn't that way at first. You used to be able to get all sorts of turn based games. Try finding more than a handful out there now.

And there's something about a solid gameboard and the social factor (if you are fortunate enough to have friends nearby that you can play with). Even if you can't play face to face, the advances that I mentioned in the use of computers to play boardgames has skyrocketed.

It still might be a niche hobby, but it's one that all wargamers realize that there is absolutely nothing as good as a good board wargame when it comes to gaming of any type.
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Jim Ransom
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Not on its deathbed, no.

But I do think wargaming needs to "train our reliefs," as we say in the Navy. We need to recruit, encourage interest, and bring along the next generation. Or one day, maybe not for a few decades, but eventually it will disappear because we didn't help keep it alive.
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Tom Willcockson
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I work on a computer all day long, that is NOT where I want to do my recreation. But seriously, I think if boardgames are going to slouch their way on to ipads and other computer applications they are inevitably going to be dumbed down and evolve into arcade style crap as the computer takes over all the functions that must be learned and memorized to play a complex boardgame and as companies compete with each other to incorporate the latest whizz bang special effects. Computer wargames are to board wargames as video and TV are to books. I have zero interest in it and am increasingly getting turned off by all the conversation about it on places like this and by the design efforts of boardgame companies to go in this direction. I'm sorry, I know it makes me sound like a total Luddite, but if anything makes me give up on the hobby it will be this (other than playing the games I already own).

So perhaps that is what is going to inevitably happen because this stuff isn't going away anytime soon. Complex boardgames will die off along with the small companies that make them and the generation that played them, all to be replaced by yet another dreary form of high tech screen based entertainment doled out by massive entertainment corporations. However until that day, perhaps Board Game Geek should get rid of the historic folder and replace it with a folder devoted to the latest computer games and apps and that sort of thing and leave this area strictly for boardgames.
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K G
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I`ve been reading the rules to "After the Holocaust." You`ll have to excuse me if I don`t comment right away on this thread.
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Hunga Dunga
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We cannot play wargames in the future. We can only play them now.
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Osprey
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TomW731 wrote:
I work on a computer all day long, that is NOT where I want to do my recreation. But seriously, I think if boardgames are going to slouch their way on to ipads and other computer applications they are inevitably going to be dumbed down and evolve into arcade style crap as the computer takes over all the functions that must be learned and memorized to play a complex boardgame and as companies compete with each other to incorporate the latest whizz bang special effects. Computer wargames are to board wargames as video and TV are to books. I have zero interest in it and am increasingly getting turned off by all the conversation about it on places like this and by the design efforts of boardgame companies to go in this direction. I'm sorry, I know it makes me sound like a total Luddite, but if anything makes me give up on the hobby it will be this (other than playing the games I already own).

So perhaps that is what is going to inevitably happen because this stuff isn't going away anytime soon. Complex boardgames will die off along with the small companies that make them and the generation that played them, all to be replaced by yet another dreary form of high tech screen based entertainment doled out by massive entertainment corporations. However until that day, perhaps Board Game Geek should get rid of the historic folder and replace it with a folder devoted to the latest computer games and apps and that sort of thing and leave this area strictly for boardgames.


I don't think the things you mention will ever replace the real things Tom.
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Holman
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Nothing is more market-driven than entertainment. If people want good games, they will have good games. I'm not worried at all.
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Roger Brandon
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I don't think boardgames will ever go away- there's always going to be people who prefer to have some gaming time that involves interacting, face to face, with friends.

But I have to admit I get disturbed by the trend of many people communicating almost entirely by electronic devices. I've seen kids who will text each other, when they're in the same room, rather than talk. I also think of kids playing games on their iphone at the Grand Canyon- an absolutely amazing natural work of art and they'd rather play a simplistic little game that they've already spent countless mindless hours playing and can't be bothered to stop for a short time to admire something truly wondrous.

Looking at the "progress" of our civilization since I was a kid- and before I was born- I'm not particularly optimistic. Everything seems to be aimed at the lowest common denominator.

But our hobby is a niche- a very small niche- that tends to attract intelligent people who prefer to engage in something that requires some actual thought. I have to believe there will always be some people like that and as long as there are, our hobby will live. Our hobby just needs to keep reaching out to the lost souls who would love boardgames but don't realize they're out there.
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RogCBrand wrote:
I don't think boardgames will ever go away- there's always going to be people who prefer to have some gaming time that involves interacting, face to face, with friends.

But I have to admit I get disturbed by the trend of many people communicating almost entirely by electronic devices. I've seen kids who will text each other, when they're in the same room, rather than talk. I also think of kids playing games on their iphone at the Grand Canyon- an absolutely amazing natural work of art and they'd rather play a simplistic little game that they've already spent countless mindless hours playing and can't be bothered to stop for a short time to admire something truly wondrous.

Looking at the "progress" of our civilization since I was a kid- and before I was born- I'm not particularly optimistic. Everything seems to be aimed at the lowest common denominator.

But our hobby is a niche- a very small niche- that tends to attract intelligent people who prefer to engage in something that requires some actual thought. I have to believe there will always be some people like that and as long as there are, our hobby will live. Our hobby just needs to keep reaching out to the lost souls who would love boardgames but don't realize they're out there.


Well put Roger.
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Ben Bosmans
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We already can see the future.

1. First step: 24 inch tablet PC's with 1 to 1 translations through programs like VASSAL.

The hardware and software is almost there. We wait for the Win OS to become standard on these giant tablets put on coffee tables.

2. Second step: everyone will be able to color print and play games. A3 now standard and A2 within just a couple of years. You'll print saved situations or buy packages on line and print them out.

3. Folding screens with adaptable surfaces. From 7 inch to 34 inch. Already in development, so probably mass production in 3 to 4 years.


In fact the difference between hardware board games and their translation to this touch and play foldable tablet market will blur.

This is no science fiction.

In 5-7 years time you'll play a boardgame on your table by unfolding a paper screen and playing on it like you would do as a normal boardgame. Of course the players will see each other at the side of the boards, physical or through the internet.

The paper map will connect to a box hardly the size of a cigarette case but having a few terrabyte ram, so you'll be able to have your complete boardgame collection with you all the time. You'll save the collection on your cloud storage as a back up.

Within 15 years the old board wargames in their original state AND in mint condition will probably see a huge price increase from collectors. Expect prices for these vintage board wargames from SPI and AH go into the thousand dollar range.

4. ... in the final stage we will see 3D printing entering our homes within 15 years, allowing to do our own 3D printing in full color. The plans of such a print will be purchased on line and the 3D pieces will be printed at your home to play with. You'll print your own pieces in 3d plastic. Current price ranges for these printers is around 30.000 dollars. No doubt it will be available in mass production by that time.

Nice future.


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Tom Willcockson
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Guess I'm just not as sanguine about it. Yes I agree there will always be people more interested in complex boardgames, but if over time enough of them get peeled away by computer games along with game companies hoping to make big bucks out of it will there be enough support left. It really isn't how this stuff gets displayed, I'm sure that is all true although as I saty I just dont want another screen no matter how sophisticated. It will be the computerization of all the components and the rules and the play aides where stuff will inevitably get dumbed down. Who wants to memorize stuff when the computer can do all that for you. Perhaps I'm wrong, I hope so, however I still think this stuff should go to its own folder on BGG.
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Andrew Laws
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jwoodall wrote:
Seriously though it'd be nice if we could find a happy medium without excessive stimulation at all times. As one of my friends once mentioned to me, "James, all games do not require that you be on amphetamines."


I hear you. Wargames take up mental time and physical time. Trouble is, many of the "simulation" games much vaunted here and elsewhere involve 10% decision points, and 90% moving crap around a board ill-suited to the purpose, whilst pausing periodically to introduce chance effects using methods that have not changed since 1974.

Also, we need some new artists in the hobby.
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jwoodall wrote:
My thoughts on it are that I will headshot those mother fuckers whether on a board or on a console. Matters not to me as I stand over their ashen corpse.


QUOTEblankOFblankTHEblankMONTH
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Warren Bruhn
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RogCBrand wrote:
I don't think boardgames will ever go away- there's always going to be people who prefer to have some gaming time that involves interacting, face to face, with friends.


So, Roger, when are you going to get together with the grognard monster wargamers in Newberg, Oregon? Geekmail me.
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John Spinello
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Ashiefan wrote:

If we are a dying breed, then we are going out in some style. I'd say the quality of games produced now make this something of a Golden Age for wargames.






+1 to that!! Never been better
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Jon Gautier

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This is the golden age of wargaming. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is. No, it's not. Yes, it is.
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K G
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RogCBrand wrote:
I also think of kids playing games on their iphone at the Grand Canyon- an absolutely amazing natural work of art and they'd rather play a simplistic little game that they've already spent countless mindless hours playing and can't be bothered to stop for a short time to admire something truly wondrous.


You can tell us. Did you want to push them in?
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Steven McBride
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jwoodall wrote:
"James, all games do not require that you be on amphetamines."


I must be reading these rulebooks wrong...
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Steven McBride
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As long as people still enjoy board games and are fighting wars, there will be wargamers.
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bigbadscrubb wrote:


What I want a concensus on is, do we think that this hobby is dying? Or, should I look forward to new games to be produced for many years to come? I remember the golden days of the 80s and 90s, where brick and mortar stores would fill their shelves with such games. Now, those stores are sparce and hard to find.


In the 80s and 90s, we thought the Golden Age was the 60s and 70s.

As long as we keep introducing youngsters to the hobby, it will last forever.

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Guys it really is much better in the overall business than anyone seems to realize. I got back into this for business purposes. Not 'get rich' but there is money to be made and fun to be had.

How about some actual numbers:

Videogame Sales Decline in 2011
http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/21940.html

2012 Videogame Sales Down 20%
http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/24066.html

Hobby Games Grow 20-25% (in 2011)
http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/22208.html

Hobby Games 'Explosive' (in 2012)
http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/23496.html

This trend started in 1999 with table top bottoming out and rebounding and videogames peaking in 2005 (the year that Halo 2 did $125m in opening day sales) and in decline ever since)

We're doing ok guys...and the diversity of games available...wow...I track eBay often to see how certain items are doing and I have been watching wargames there now for about 18 months. During this time the number of listings at any given time rose from around 6,500 items to 11,000+ (11,400 as of this moment-check for yourself http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?type=4&cam... )

Now certain things, like monster games, are slowly trending out, but young people are coming back in (I have mentioned them before-they refer to themselves as Neo-Grognards and Grognardlings - choosing to play older games instead of video or modern RPGs etc) the conventions are doing well (41,000 for GenCon last year-a record at a time when table top gaming is supposed to be on its 'death bed').

So hit the game table and hit it hard. We ain't going no where but up
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